Wednesday, May 13, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: OREGON


Election type: primary
Date: May 19
Number of delegates: 73 [13 at-large, 7 PLEOs, 41 congressional district, 12 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan

Changes since 2016
If one followed the 2016 series on the Republican process here at FHQ, then you may end up somewhat disappointed. The two national parties manage the presidential nomination process differently. The Republican National Committee is much less hands-on in regulating state and state party activity in the delegate selection process than the Democratic National Committee is. That leads to a lot of variation from state to state and from cycle to cycle on the Republican side. Meanwhile, the DNC is much more top down in its approach. Thresholds stay the same. It is a 15 percent barrier that candidates must cross in order to qualify for delegates. That is standard across all states. The allocation of delegates is roughly proportional. Again, that is applied to every state.

That does not mean there are no changes. The calendar has changed as have other facets of the process such as whether a state has a primary or a caucus.

Oregon Democrats saw very few changes from 2016 to 2020. There were several bills that were introduced in 2018 in the state legislature to change the date of the presidential primary, shifting it into March in all three cases. But for the sixth straight cycle, the Oregon primary remained in mid-May.

The date stayed the same and the administration of the election by the state government remained vote-by-mail. That insulated Oregon Democrats from changes to the delegate allocation process in the face of the coronavirus. There was no need to eliminate in-person voting in Oregon where there was in other states.

All ballots are due to county elections offices by 8pm (PT) Tuesday, May 19. That is received and not postmarked by May 19. Voters who complete their ballots after the Wednesday before the election are encouraged to drop the ballot off rather than mail it

[Please see below for more on the post-coronavirus changes specifically to the delegate selection process.]

Overall, the Democratic delegation in Oregon changed by just one delegate from 2016 to 2020. The number of pledged delegates in all three categories stayed exactly the same, and the delegation gained one superdelegate.

The standard 15 percent qualifying threshold applies both statewide and on the congressional district level.

Delegate allocation (at-large and PLEO delegates)
To win any at-large or PLEO (pledged Party Leader and Elected Officials) delegates a candidate must win 15 percent of the statewide vote. Only the votes of those candidates above the threshold will count for the purposes of the separate allocation of these two pools of delegates.

See New Hampshire synopsis for an example of how the delegate allocation math works for all categories of delegates.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Oregon's 41 congressional district delegates are split across five congressional districts and have a variation of six delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Oregon Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 gubernatorial election in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 9 delegates*
CD2 - 6 delegates
CD3 - 12 delegates
CD4 - 7 delegates*
CD5 - 7 delegates*

*Bear in mind that districts with odd numbers of national convention delegates are potentially important to winners (and those above the qualifying threshold) within those districts. Rounding up for an extra delegate initially requires less in those districts than in districts with even numbers of delegates.

Delegate allocation (automatic delegates/superdelegates)
Superdelegates are free to align with a candidate of their choice at a time of their choosing. While their support may be a signal to voters in their state (if an endorsement is made before voting in that state), superdelegates will only vote on the first ballot at the national convention if half of the total number of delegates -- pledged plus superdelegates -- have been pledged to one candidate. Otherwise, superdelegates are locked out of the voting unless 1) the convention adopts rules that allow them to vote or 2) the voting process extends to a second ballot. But then all delegates, not just superdelegates will be free to vote for any candidate.

[NOTE: All Democratic delegates are pledged and not bound to their candidates. They are to vote in good conscience for the candidate to whom they have been pledged, but technically do not have to. But they tend to because the candidates and their campaigns are involved in vetting and selecting their delegates through the various selection processes on the state level. Well, the good campaigns are anyway.]

All 65 Oregon pledged delegates will be selected in a new vote-by-mail system open to all registered Oregon Democrats. Those Oregon Democrats can apply online by May 21 in order to receive ballot instructions on May 27. And participation means either voting for delegate candidates or running for district, at-large or PLEO delegate positions. All three categories of delegates will be elected through the same system. Ballots will be due by June 12.

[Initially, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Oregon Democrats had planned to hold post-primary district caucuses on June 6 and a state convention on June 20. The former would have selected the 41 district delegates while the latter would have been charged with choosing the 20 statewide (at-large and PLEO) delegates. Those in-person gatherings were eliminated in a revised delegate selection plan that received approval from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee on May 4.]

Importantly, if a candidate drops out of the race before the selection of statewide delegates, then any statewide delegates allocated to that candidate will be reallocated to the remaining candidates. If Candidate X is in the race in mid June when the Oregon statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the May primary would be reallocated to Candidate X. [This same feature is not something that applies to district delegates.] This reallocation only applies if a candidate has fully dropped out.  This is less likely to be a factor with just Biden left as the only viable candidate in the race, but Sanders could still gain statewide delegates by finishing with more than 15 percent statewide. Under a new deal struck between the Biden and Sanders camps, Biden will be allocated (or reallocated) all of the statewide delegates in a given state. However, during the selection process, the state party will select Sanders-aligned delegate candidates in proportion to the share of the qualified statewide vote.

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